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At a supermarket here in Lisbon I bought some fresh fish which was on sale for €2.50/kg. An attractive price, I picked up a pair and brought them back home and prepared a single one for dinner for myself and housemates.
Nothing interesting happened.
In the morning I was very curious about this species which I’d never seen before and the first result that Google showed me “Dreamfish”, Salema Porgy, a fish “which can cause Ichthyoallyeinotoxism when eaten”.
Oh man. Am I eating toxic fish or the famed Orgy Porgy which the Romans allegedly consumed.
“Sarpa salpa, a species of bream, can induce LSD-like hallucinations if it is eaten”– Wikipedia
Hmm. Now I’m keen. I don’t like being poisoned but I don’t mind a trip once in a while…
Table of Contents
Part 1 – the learning
I write this article as I come from eating 1/4 of the fish last night and plan to eat a whole one later tonight. I’m halfway through Sober October right now – so I’m more sensitive to psychoactives than usual.
Searching incessantly discovered no information about the active compounds, biopharmacology, or chemical makeup as to what may make you trip.
Nothing except some tabloid articles which regurgitates the same clickbait talking points of a pair people experiencing days-long discomfort, nausea, visual & auditory hallucinations, and so forth. Boo, internet journalism sucks these days.
Therefor, all these articles relating the Dreamfish to LSD are tabloid garbage, so far.
At this point I’m a little less interested. 36-hours+ long ‘trip’, post-trip amnesia, nausea, auditory hallucinations? Sounds a lot like Datura, and there’s no way on earth I want to play with some Scopolamine in my body. There’s a good full text study on Hallucinatory Fish Poisoning here.
However, I may be stupid, but I’m also dumb! So lets dive deeper into the depths of the net and see what info we can pull up, and if we might get a dose of deliriants by this particular pescatarian delight.
In fact, the discussion of Hallucinogenic Fish on Bluelight is seemingly the best resource so far alongside one article on Neurotoxicity in rats induced by the poisonous Dreamfish. Yay, neurotoxicity sounds nice!
Perhaps it’s some sort of Tropane Alkaloid derived from the diet of the fish – impossible to know what exactly. This particular fish was caught somewhere near the coast of Lisbon, Portugal. Perhaps they’re feeding on a toxic phytoplankton or are just some psychedelic poisson by default.
There seems to be traditional use by the people of Polynesia and vague suggestions that the Greeks & Romans used it recreationally and in their sexual rituals. Orgy Porgy indeed.
German anthropologist Christian Rätsch thinks the dreamfish may contain the hallucinogen DMT, but this is a stretch IMO and is spoken by this book and this page in Portuguese. Certainly unreliable and I take all these informations in with a tablespoon of salt (and some rosemary, butter, salt, and pepper…).
In Hamiltons Pharmacopeia – Fish N’ Trips – they investigated psychedelic fish. No mention of this specific fish I have here but they’re very right – algae can have anything from cannabinoids to tryptamines to indoles to neurotoxins and so forth. Consider that Salemas Porgy is an algae eater, diet is the most likely candidate as to why it’s possibly psychedelic.
Who knows, lets find out if my Dreamfish has any effect.
Part 2 – eating the ‘Dreamfish’.
Oven baked with lemon, butter, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Smoked salt, pepper, care, and attention to finish it off. Glass of mango nectar and we’re ready to go – it tastes quite good actually!
30 minutes into eating the ‘dreamfish’ and I’m actually surprised – I feel a little bit ‘drunk’ or buzzy, but more on the sleepy and lazy side. I’ve eaten both fish heads, the liver, and I feel very moderately trippy, but that can be chalked up to placebo. Time to continue eating and continue listening to a podcast.
1 hour into the ‘experience’ – I feel notably drowsy, a bit of motor function decline, slightly ‘spacey’, but I’m definitely willing to chalk up some of these effects to placebo. I’m certainly making a few more typing errors while writing this though.
2 hours in and I feel a bit drowsy and ‘inebriated’ still but very mild overall. Listening to music is nice and engaging – but it usually is. Perhaps marginally better but nothing hugely different.
At this point I’m going to sleep soon. I didn’t expect much effects (if any at all) but this slight drowsy/trippy feeling was interested. Maybe my brain conjured it after watching Hamilton Morris eat tons of dreamfish, maybe it’s legitimate.
Waking up, I wish I could say I had an extraordinary night, but wouldn’t be true. I experienced a normal amount of dreaming that I usually do and a regular nights sleep. Dang, where are these treasured night terrors?
So, I’m sorry to have kept you on the line for so long with a completely anti-climactic ending, but honestly, not everything in life has to be exciting.
While there are undoubtedly a ton of psychoactive things floating around in the sea, we’re likely not even aware of 1% of them. Psychedelic sea sponges and poisonous plants are out there and while the Salema Porgy didn’t quite give me much, I didn’t expect such.
I wouldn’t recommend eating random fish, algae, plants, or things from the sea without research – you’d be surprised at how many things are inedible or toxic for us. I even had my reservations with this specific fish, but decided to go through with it anyways in the name of… science?
Regardless, I’m now quite curious about this world of aquatic inebriants. Surely there’s plenty of things that exist out there like the sea sponge with 5-Bromo-DMT which we’ve not even come close to discovering yet. Maybe we should just stick to what we know so far, because man, we don’t know anything still!
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this article! It took a while to cook, research, and write for this post. Consider donating a coffee-amount of coins via PayPal to keep this project alive 🙂
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